I am the last person who should be reading Michel K. Williams’s memoir. I have never seen an episode of The Wire. I only know him from his 3 episode stint on Community. In Season 3 episode 1 he says the line “I know who Sean Penn is! I seen Milk!” and I think about the way he delivered this line all the time.
I also remember how, back in the day, The Wire got so much press because they hired actors with the same lived experiences as the show. Notably, Williams was not from Baltimore and the New York projects he grew up and lived in were culturally different from the Baltimore projects…though I’m sure the producers didn’t get that nuance. 🙄
The memoir is a fascinating dive into Williams’ journey to fame and how he used his fame to become a juvenile incarceration reform advocate.
Williams was a queer Black man living in New York City during the 80’s–part of his early young adulthood was spent in the underground ballroom scene. He spent much of his life balancing his queer and Black identity. I will say–it did sort of stand out to me that there was very little about his romantic relationships or his thoughts on having his own family.
William is brutally honest about his failures and mistakes. Despite becoming a pop culture icon and renowned actor–Williams struggled to support himself and manage money well into his 40s. He found renewed purpose later in life and became an advocate for reforming juvenile incarceration.
Williams struggled with addiction his entire life which ultimately lead to his passing before this book could be completed. Williams’ addiction was often triggered after performing violent street roles that mirrored his real-life trauma. I can’t help but think that if there were more diverse roles for dark-skinned Black actors– Williams could have had a chance to expand his range and side-step his addiction.
I probably won’t watch The Wire (BTW this book spoils the show so …*20 year spoiler alert* ??) but I do want to check out his Vice show Black Market and the documentary he made about juvenile incarceration.
If you want a cliff notes version of this book check out Vanity Fair’s Michael K. Williams Breaks Down His Career video on YouTube. I think they used this interview to help flesh out the book.
The people of The Stillness live at the will of the Seasons–world-ending tectonic disasters that occur without warning.The Stillness has not always been this way and this current season might just be the last.
I bought the box set of this series in 2018 and have just gotten around to reading it. This immersive series is a dynamic blend of science-fiction and fantasy that is must listen on audio. Narrator Robin Miles did her thing with these audiobooks. She has amazing range and her multifaceted performance highlights the epicness of this earth-bending series.
A fantasy series is a successful read for me when I CANNOT figure out how the author came up with the story, world or concept. To that end, this series is a smashing success. The characters and the struggles they encounter felt real and lived in. There are actual worlds in Jemisin’s head. That is the only explanation.
The Fifth Season
Life in the Stillness, a vast dystopic landscape, revolves around Seasons– apocalyptic natural disasters that occur without warning. The earth has it out for humanity and the only ones who can control it are Orogenes, those born with the ability to control kinetic and seismic energy. To be an Orogene is to be feared, enslaved, and abused.
The first book follows Essun, a 40-year-old Orogene in hiding, as she attempts to outrun the current apocalypse to exact revenge on her son’s murderer. Unfortunately, this is not an ordinary Season and Essun is soon pulled into a large conspiracy that will change everything.
I don’t know what I can say about Jemisin’s award-winning series that hasn’t already been said. It is an immersive and well-imagined tale. Her storytelling is unique (it’s in the second person) and she masterfully weaves multiple POVS in an unexpected way. I will say it took me a few chapters to get into, but once you get into the flow it’s hard to put down.
A majority of the characters are Black. Ir is delightful reading a fantasy book where caucasian features aren’t the automatic default. There is also a healthy intersection of LGBTQ characters and representation.
My only critique is that I had a hard time picturing exactly what the setting looked like. They mention gaslights and horses so at first, I imagined a dystopian early 20th century–but something about the clothes and the way medical devices are described felt a little more 90’s ? IDK. Maybe it’s supposed to be like Mad Max vibes ?
The Obelisk Gate
Jemisin’s storytelling ability is still going full force in the second book. Essun and her motley crew of travelers have been volun-told into joining a utopian underground community. In between dealing with community politics, Essun learns the whole truth about this very unusual season. This is a stationery book and I was sad to see we don’t get to watch the characters travel.
Essun’s ten-year-old daughter Nassun has a POV and look, I’m not the biggest fan of children’s POV in brutal adult books but I think this one worked well. Nassun has to grow up fast as she learns about her potential as an Orogene and what it means to sacrifice. One of the characters, Chaffa, is a Guardian whose job is to control Orogenes in a harsh but gentle manner. I’m not really understanding what Jeminisn is doing with this character or what they add to the story. This character’s origins, motivation and purpose just never made sense to me.
The Stone Sky
The world’s fate is now in the hands of a mother and daughter on two sides of a millennia-long war.
My favorite part of this book is the flashbacks that finally reveal the origin of The Stillness and what the mysterious Stone Eater creatures are. Reveals like this are why I enjoy speculative/dystopian stories. This book languidly moves towards the finale, which honestly wasn’t as massive and action-packed as I thought it would be. I thought the ending was fitting but I can’t say I truly understood parts of it or that it gave me the emotional punch I was hoping for.
I’m sold on Jemisin as a writer and am up for checking out her other series. These last few years I’ve been diving into fantasy by POC writers and it never disappoints. I think there is freedom to storytelling when you break away from the stereotypical fantasy setting
Pastoral England where?
Anyway… I’ll wait here until someone casts Danai Gurira in the movie adaptation.
Contemporary YA | Holiday House | Published : 02/08/2022
17-year-old Kat Sanchez is a photographer and free spirit. She loves herself and her plus-sized body but can’t help but to obsess over the low engagement her photography gets on Instagram. On a whim, she uses photos of her beautiful blonde co-worker and creates “Max”– a fake social media influencer who becomes an instant success.…
In this revealing memoir, the bubbly grooming expert from Netflix’s Queer Eye shares their past struggles with addiction, childhood sexual abuse, and disordered eating. Van Ness takes readers along on their often messy and deeply complicated journey to becoming the on-screen persona adored by millions of fans.
Needless to say, this is a heavy read.…